Indians celebrate the decriminalising of gay sex, but say it can’t stop there

 

Embed from Getty Images

Celebrations in the streets of Kolkatta after the Supreme Court’s decision. 

By SALONEE MISTRY

In a landmark decision handed down by the Indian Supreme Court last week, gay sex has been decriminalised.

The previous laws have been in place since India was colonised by Britain in the 1800s.

While the community was seen rejoicing in the streets and ecstatic about the judgment, members of India’s Melbourne community don’t want the movement to stop here.

RMIT Fashion Design student Benjain Garg said the landmark judgement made him emotional and the verdict was not something he had imagined.

“I am definitely going to feel freer while I walk the streets of my hometown, Delhi,” he said.

Benjaming Garg believes that the judgement will allow him to be a freer man once he goes back home credit. Benjamin Garg

“The judgment opens up scope for much needed conversation and the police who would otherwise get violent with us for no reason, won’t be able to do that any more.”

Opening up to his village and parents was not an easy task for him. After months of counselling which his parents thought would cure him from being gay,  he said the verdict made him believe the law at least was on his side.

Mr Garg moved to Melbourne a year and a half ago. While his parents accepted him for who he is, they buckled under social pressure and asked him to leave the country 

Vedant Agarwal believes that education at all levels and awareness on the issue needs more attention. Picture supplied

Monash student Vedant Agarwal  said it was one thing to be legally acknowledged, but another to for his relatives and society in general to change their perceptions.

“When I came out to my parents, even though they were supportive, they initially thought that I was trying to get attention. I too went for counselling with them and was even told that this was probably just a phase,” he said.

“I have a friend who is not allowed to attend family functions or even step into his house because he is gay. This has probably not changed.”

Sakshi Sharma moved to Melbourne to get away from what she described as a “negative atmosphere”.

Ms Sharma said that while decriminalising gay sex was a step in the right direction, it should not stop there.

“This is more about the country decolonising than accepting those who belong to the LGBTQ community,” she said.

Sakshi Sharma is still not allowed to voice her opinion on the issue on social media, least her relatives see it and is hoping that it shall change now. Picture supplied

“I am still not allowed to post openly about my views regarding the issue or even share moments of my relationship with my girlfriend because my father will be questioned and judged by our relatives and his friends.”

While Ms Sharma’s father has accepted that she is homosexual, her mother still thinks it is “stupid” and “not natural”.

Ira said she identified as bi-curious. The only thing the law changed was that police officers had no authority to mistreat anyone belonging to the community under the name of the law, she said. 

“I have been fortunate enough to come from a supportive family and community,” she said.

Ira believes that legalising same sex marriage is the logical next step. Picture supplied

 

“It shouldn’t matter who I choose to love and to get to this point it’s still a long walk.”

All four said the next step to removing the stigma was to legalise same-sex marriage, but education and multi-level awareness is a step in the right direction.

The judgment was passed unanimously by a bench of five Supreme Court judges.

A part of the judgment read: “The mere fact that the LGBT persons constitute a ‘miniscule fraction’ of the country’s population cannot be a ground to deprive them of their Fundamental Rights guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.”

Earlier in 2009, the High Court in Delhi had declared the Section unconstitutional but this was overturned by the Supreme Court judges, citing that changing laws was the responsibility of the Parliament.